Making a Splash for Charity


Julia swimmingWell at last I can tell you properly about the swimming gala I am organising as we now have a venue confirmed.

It started off as me doing a swim of 100 lengths of a moderately sized pool to tie in with the title of my book, to raise money for British Polio Fellowship and Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

However as a result of the publicity when my book launched I was approached by the British Polio Fellowship and asked if I would be an ambassador for them.

I gladly agreed as they were instrumental in teaching me to swim as a young child after I had contracted and survived the killer disease aged fourteen months. They also asked if I would mind delaying the swim until July as it could be the launch event for Polio Awareness month. Again I agreed and from there things have snowballed a bit.

James & medalRather than just me swimming privately up and down a pool for an hour, why not make it into a gala so that we could raise more money for the charities.

Wouldn't it be great if we could get Paralympian sliver medallist, James Crisp, also an ambassador for BPF, involved? The question was asked and he has agreed to take part.

Of course we would need to have a master of ceremonies for the event and who better than the voice of swimming for Radio 5 and the Paralympics, Bob Ballard, who just happens to be a QVC fan. A couple of texts and a phonecall later and we had our host.


Bob BallardThen there was the slight issue of a Pool. I didn't want to pay for a venue as I wanted as much money as possible to go to the two charities. I approached Trinity School in Croydon as my children had swum there in galas when they were younger and I knew they had a viewing gallery. I have no connection with this school but they couldn't have been more helpful and supportive, offering the use of the pool for the gala free of charge. Particular thanks go to Thomas Blyth for his help.

As I mentioned the swim will also be for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research and my contact there is former Crystal Palace and England footballer Geoff Thomas who ten years ago was diagnosed with the same blood cancer I now have.

Since his bone marrow transplant and subsequent recovery Geoff has been instrumental in raising huge amounts of money which go towards researching new drugs to treat all types of blood cancer. He is happier riding a bike than swimming but I have managed to persuade him to strip down to his speedos to take part and another former Palace player, John Salako, has been 'persuaded' to swim as well.

I have also asked my presenter colleagues at QVC if they can take part and so far I have yes's from Debbie Flint, Carmel, Ali Keenan, Chloe and Anna dependant on 'on air' commitments as it is Super Sunday on QVC that day!

The emphasis on the day is fun with races like the pyjama race, inflatable race, tandem race, obstacle race etc. and if you think you would like to come please reply on this blog and then I can contact you via email as places are limited. The date is 7th July and it is from 11am – 1.30pm. There will be no admission charge but a donation to the charities would be very much appreciated.

And that is the serious side of this day, we are trying to raise money for these two charities and if you feel you would be able to help here is the link to the virgingiving page

You could be the first to sponsor me!

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend and I'll look forward to your company for the Decleor TSV launch Saturday midnight… You won't want to miss it

Much love

Julia xx


  1. alana May 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    The charity swim sounds great! If I lived closer to London I would definitely take part. Hope you raise lots and take some pics to put on your blog if you can.
    In response to the message on your last blog I would absolutely get another cat when the time felt right, as research has shown they make you a happier and less stressed person! Lol.
    Enjoy the weekend,it’s lovely and sunny here.

  2. Jaz Parmar May 26, 2013 at 12:59 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    Like everyone else, you don’t know me… but I know you ;o)
    Just saw you on the launch of today’s Decleor TSV and I just had to find a way to tell you that I thought you looked beautiful tonight!
    I never visit the blog pages but I really wanted to get this message to you! I hope you get it!
    Much love
    Jaz xxx

  3. Myfanwy Brown May 27, 2013 at 12:13 am -  Reply

    Hi Julia,
    I think it is wonderful that you are raising money for charity.
    I was surprised to learn that you suffer from psoriasis, although I have heard you talk about having skin problems. I have suffered with it for many years, since age 30 and I am now 51. It all started with an itchy lump on my head, and it spread to other parts of my body. I went to all kinds of doctors in South Africa, and got nowhere, but eventually I went to a specialist and she diagnosed psoriasis. She gave me an ointment and a fluid medication, which is brilliant and works! It was horrible having all these itchy scaly lumps all over my head, especially before I knew what was causing it. I have had alot of trauma in my life and the specialist said it was caused from stress. She told me that anyone can have the psoriasis in their system, and it might never manifest. But for some, like me, the stress can cause it to come out.
    Certain foods make it worse, anything very rich in cakes and icing, cream etc. I realised that the first lump on my head was right where my nerves are situated, but as I said, I get it on different parts of my body too. Fortunately, not my face.
    Anyway, just thought I would mention it to you. What did you use to help yours? I would hate it if you left our screens!

  4. Jean Pugh May 27, 2013 at 8:44 am -  Reply

    Hi Julie,
    It sounds as if it is going to be a great day, certainly a lot going on. I wish you all the best with your swimming. I expect you feel honoured being asked to be an ambassador for the Charity.
    There are going to be some famous faces there which makes it all more worthwhile, it is nice to have the support from your colleagues from QVC as well.
    I did go through to the link and sponsor you, lets hope you raise a lot of money.
    Super Decleor TSV, did order it.
    Anyway hope everything goes well and I am sure you will all get a lot of support.
    Take care.
    Love Jean X

  5. edna munro May 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm -  Reply

    Hope it all goes well,Julia and that you raise lots of money.I am sure team QVC will,as ever ,do all possible to help.You are looking great by the way.

  6. Marian Bolton May 27, 2013 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Good luck with the fundraising. I’ve tried to donate but, for some reason, it hasn’t been successful. You might want to check the link? It let me get so far but then gave a message like ‘can’t find the server’ or something. I’ll keep trying though.
    I was thinking about you actually whilst swimming in a spa pool on Friday! First time I have swam in years but it just comes right back to you doesn’t it. My friends and colleagues at work got me a ‘spa day for two’ at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest for my 50th. It was a first for me (at a spa) and Chris who surprisingly agreed to accompany me. We both loved it and definitely plan to repeat the experience! We’ve had a lovely weekend actually celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. Another first was a visit on Saturday night to a Michelin star restaurant. Fabulous, although, at those prices, I’m not sure we’ll be repeating that experience!
    it was lovely to see Poppy on your last blog. I’m loving the Elemis Illuminating Balm but, like you, need to apply moisturiser too. I’m using it over Ultrasun and Pro Collagen Marine Cream.

  7. GINNY PAARZ May 28, 2013 at 2:10 am -  Reply

    Oh Julia what a great EVENT you are going to have a BALL!! Wish I was on that side of the pond for it would have been a great B’DAY prezzie as mine is on the 6 th of July!, Wow it will be fab & you will raise a lot of £££££! Great! On your POPPY blog I was a day late so if you did not get a chance to read it Jeff did go for his Pet Scan to determine the results of all his treatment so far all winter! As it turns out the Treatment has worked very well shrinking the tumor in the Colon to almost 1/4 of the size in the beginning. The other nodes on the liungs and liver have done almost as well being they were much smaller! So the treatment of the 5 FU CYMO plus the radar earlier has done its work thus far. However the side effects have been almost impossible for him these past few weeks. We shall hear more tomorrow when he sees his DR. We have had Memorial Day holiday as you guys had a Bank Holiday this week end and it was really busy here! The beaches were busy and the atmosphere has been awesome. I hope Jeff can soon enjoy life a bit more. this has been a rough road. Hope ypu have a great Swim! i Really looking forward to seeing y our pictures! Wish you could see some of mine over here!! OH WELL!! Bless you and know we are thinking of you across the pond!! XXXX

  8. Deirdre Costello May 28, 2013 at 2:17 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Just want to congrat u on Crystal Palace promotion which I feel you will be thrilled abount
    Just finished your book and the final chapter was a shock to me as I did not realise your health issue.
    I would like to wish you all the best and I hope you have great success in your treatment
    You are such a positive person and I hope all goes well for you. Have to say in all you have been through it never came across in your presentations during the time you were waiting for all the results – again wishing you improved health and happiness.
    from the Wee County in Ireland (Co Louth)

  9. Magda Chetty May 28, 2013 at 2:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    First CONGRATULATION Palace will play Premiership football next season, I kept my fingers crossed for them all week end and they made it, you must be very happy.
    Hope you have a great day on July 7th and raise lots of money.
    Like the Marian I tried to donate, but the site kept cutting off, will keep at it and hope it works.
    Have visiters from England this week and today at last the sun came out and they can enjoy the weather, hope it is good where you are. Take good care, all the best.

  10. Marian Bolton May 29, 2013 at 7:07 pm -  Reply

    Hi Julia
    Donation successfully made tonight! Sorry about that, not sure what the problem was on Monday, maybe it was our Internet connection. Anyhow, all’s well and all that.
    I meant to say how much I loved that watch you were wearing for the Decleor TSV launch. Was it one of The Q’s? I still miss that popcorn watch. Not sure whether I’ve told you that Chris bought me the gold one for Christmas a few years ago. I was totally thrilled but had to return it as some of the links fell out. I have to say though, The Q were great about it and refunded our money no qualms even though it was nearly two years later. I loved the bracelet style of that watch though and the one you had on on Sunday looked a similar style.
    Speak soon

  11. Tricia Coulson-wood May 30, 2013 at 8:47 pm -  Reply

    Simply, why don’t I look as good as you in my swimsuit?

  12. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm -  Reply

    Hi Alana
    Maybe if this years gala is a success we could organise for pools around the country to do a 100 lengths swim next year ….. either individuals or relay teams …. what do you think?
    I hope you will get another cat when you feel up to it, it’s good to have something/one to care for
    Julia x

  13. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 1:49 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jaz
    Thanks for your lovely message about the Decleor launch – I hope you will visit my blog page again!
    Julia x

  14. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 1:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Myfanwy
    Sorry to hear of the problems you have with psoriasis. My main area of concern was my left palm, classified as palmopsoriasis, until my major flare up all over my face and body.
    I initially took steroid tablets to calm my skin along with different strength steroid ointments for the various different areas affected – the fantastic side-effect was that it cured the problem on my left hand completely and (touch wood) it has not returned.
    Foods don’t seem to affect my skin particularly but I eat very little dairy anyway.
    I hope you will be able to keep your psoriasis under control
    Julia x

  15. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:03 pm -  Reply

    Hello Jean
    Thanks so much for your support it means a great deal to both of the charities I am swimming for.
    I’m still waiting to hear which Presenters will be able to take part ( on air takes priority of course) but I think Debs Flint and Carmel are pretty definite.
    Glad to hear you got your Decleor TSV – good value wasn’t it!
    Julia x

  16. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:07 pm -  Reply

    Hello Edna
    Thanks for the compliment – I’m feeling pretty good at the moment too.
    The QVC marketing team are being really helpful with the gala and I’m already signing up lots of the ‘behind the scenes’ folk to take part in the races ……. strictly for fun!
    Julia x

  17. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm -  Reply

    Hi Marian
    Thanks for the donation and for going back to try again – not sure if there was a problem as Magda also said she had an issue – but all done now!
    Pleased that you and your Chris had a great time at the spa – my Chris doesn’t swim so I always feel guilty as he ends up just sitting around!
    Perhaps you will be able to visit another Michelin star restaurant for your 20th anniversary!!!
    The watch I have been wearing is actually a DKNY one from a few years ago and it’s not mine. I borrowed it from Sophie as the clasp on my popcorn watch finally gave up the ghost ….. not bad after all these years. I have had such a response to the watch that I have suggested to QVC that we do something similar – maybe in Diamonique?
    Thanks again for the support
    Julia x

  18. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ginny
    I am so pleased to hear that all Jeff’s treatment has produced positive results – I know it has been really tough for him and you of course. Let me know how the Drs appointment went.
    Our weather has been really weird …. last weekend lots of beautiful sunshine then the heating back on on Tuesday. It’s brightening up today though which is great as this is my weekend off!
    I meant to tell you One Hundred Lengths of the Pool is poised to be released as an e book – apparently you can pre-order it as someone informed me on twitter that she had done. It’s on Amazon and iTunes and maybe others and I think they are hoping to release it on June 6th.
    Look after your Jeff – my latest results were really good …… such a weight of my mind
    Julia x

  19. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:26 pm -  Reply

    Hi Deirdre
    I am over the moon at Crystal Palace’s promotion – it’s been a very long 8 years without Premiership football in SE25! Just hoping we can stay for a bit longer this time.
    I’m so pleased you read my book and I’m sorry that the final chapter came as a shock to you. I did keep my CML very quiet until I knew that the treatment was working for me and I’m delighted to say my latest results were better than even my Professor was hoping for.
    Julia x

  20. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Magda
    I’m so sorry you had problems with the virgingiving link as did Marian – not sure what the problem was? The donations are already starting to mount up which I’m thrilled about as I know it is a difficult time with us all watching our pennies.
    I am also thrilled for my ‘red and blue army’ – I was very tense at Wembley but it was the right result in the end I think ….. but then I would say that I suppose. Really looking forward to Premier League football next season.
    Our weather has been all over the place here but looking out of the window I’m hoping for a pleasant few days for my weekend off.
    Speak soon
    Julia x

  21. Julia roberts May 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Tricia
    Why do you think I chose that picture … predominantly under water so it disguises a multitude of sins!!
    Julia x

  22. Daniel K Amofah June 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm -  Reply

    Whereabouts will the event take place?
    I would love to be involved.
    What about being a spectator?
    Daniel K Amofah

  23. Anne Graham July 21, 2013 at 10:56 pm -  Reply

    what a nice surprise when I received my copy of The Bulletin to see your photo on the front and the article in side. I contracted polio in 1951 just before I was two I also wore a calliper for awhile and with the help of swimming soon got strong enough not to need one.Polio has left me with a weak right leg but I have never let it get me down but the last few years I have become very tired due to PPS. Great news about your book must buy a copy well done with the success of the swimming gala. I watch QVC and seem to buy rather a lot ha! keep up the good work and take care. Best wishes Anne Graham.

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